Smith, Warner snub AB Medal night
BANNED batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner have split the past four Allan Border medals but neither will be in the room when a new winner is crowned on Monday night.
The former captain and vice-captain, who have under two months of their year-long suspensions to serve, have knocked back invitations to the Australian Cricket Awards in what looms as a sombre occasion after a tumultuous 12 months for the sport.
Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins loom as the most likely winners of the medal with Test performances weighted more heavily when the more than 3200 votes, cast by players, umpires and the cricket media are counted.
One-day captain Aaron Finch had a stunning 12 months in white-ball cricket and scored 1302 runs in all forms for Australia during the voting period, nearly 500 more than the next best, Travis Head, which will ensure he polls heavily.
But Lyon, who led the way with 51 wickets though the voting period, was Australia's best player in the most recent series against India and those performances should be enough for him to win from Cummins who has emerged as arguably the best fast bowler in the world.
What Cricket Australia would like to be a night of highlight is however unlikely to escape without incident.
Former Test keeper Matthew Wade, who has been outspoken this summer after being continually overlooked for international duties, is likely to be crowned domestic player of the year, potentially giving him another platform, and more ammunition, to protest his omission.
Victorian batting prodigy Will Pucovski is likely to be named the Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year too.
But his presence has not been confirmed after he was released from the Test squad last week to continue to deal with his mental health issues.
There was criticism of how Pucovski was handled at national level, after being elevated to the Test squad then overlooked for selection against Sri Lanka.
Smith, Warner and former Test opener Cameron Bancroft, who has completed his nine month suspension for his involvement in the sandpaper scandal, could still poll votes on the night.
Bancroft could even be rewarded for his effort in the infamous match at Cape Town after the West Australian scored 77 in the first innings, the only Australian half-century in the match.
But all three players are ineligible to claim any awards.
The scathing Longstaff review, ordered in the wake of the ball-tampering incident, suggested changes to the Allan Border Medal should take in to account player behaviour.
Smith and Warner shared the past four medals despite recording the highest number of code of conduct breaches for international matches in recent years.
"In line with this, players who have been penalised for poor on-field behaviour should not be eligible as recipients for major awards," the report stated.
Current rules only disqualify players suspended for a "time period" and not just specific matches, as per most International Cricket Council penalties, from winning any CA awards.
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